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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Critique

“Hey Critic take a moment to understand
My world is melting in your hands
Melting, melting, melting…”
- From the song “Hey Critic” by David Stanley

Ryn Tales has been reviewed twice this week! Once because I asked and once unasked.

The girls over at
So Many Blogs, So Little Time reviewed my site this week. You can sign up on their list and they will eventually review you. I signed up in February about 30 years ago. You can read the review here.

Diva Dee thought my template was crap and canned. Which describes it perfectly. They came down particularly hard about that. I agree, my template is canned and my blog has a bad case of sidebaritis. I don’t know about you, but I think each post should have it’s own unique wacky label. Is redundancy really that bad? All the governments of first world countries rely on a high level of redundancy to keep life as we know it chugging along.

DD's review was good motivation for change. I was bored to death of the skin Ryn Tales was in, so I changed it and will change it again as I learn more. After all, DD’s site is on Blogger. They have just “Hacked the crap out of the template” to quote Dave when we looked up their source code. I thought I would copy their source code into HTML and in doing so copy their template and then ask them for another review. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery is it not?!

I noticed that in other reviews the girls panned canned Blogger templates but if the blogs were funny or well written they were very forgiving about it. For mine I think she gave me the score she did out of sympathy for my situation. I think DD must have been like, “Oh shit, she’s got a disabled kid.” She admitted that she wondered how she would give me a fair review. I appreciate her honesty there.

At the end of the day they gave me a 7.5 out to 10 summing me up as, “… just truly quite remarkable.”

Hmmmm. She has a point there, of course. In fact, that is pretty much how I think about myself day to day. Truly Quite Remarkable. You can just call me TQR for short from now on.

Getting a 75 on a paper in school would have been such very bad news. What does this say about my writing? Is it soooo not worth mentioning? I think this is a sign of room for improvement for me in that area. Certainly. I write most of my posts in minutes and then read them over once or twice in the process of posting them. I don’t spend hours struggling over the writing or laboring for perfection. And, I know this summer I have been less than inspired. Great writers I think wrestle a lot more with their work. I have read stories about Sylvia Plath agonizing over her poetry. In my case, I don’t think shear volume of writing is always the best practice if you want to get better at it. Which is so unfortunate, because it is so very easy for me to capture my thoughts shot gun style with the keyboard.

She decided at the end that Ellie was the best thing about Ryn Tales. Here, I heartily agree with her.

Overall, I am glad I signed up for their critique even though I am joking about it here. Getting feedback about how one is doing in life is critical to any ones' growth and development. It’s so rare that we get honest feedback from anyone. Throw in a special needs child and it becomes even more difficult for people to be straight about you in your fragile condition. Thanks Diva Dee!

The next informal shout out I got unexpectedly I have to say meant a lot more to me personally. It was like meeting
Obi-Wan Kenobi and having him say, “Hey I’ll put a word in for you with the Jedi Council.”

Dream Mom, who I have to say is one of my absolute hero’s in life on so many levels, gave me a shout out here. She even wrote me an email. I was so delighted. Her writing and thoughtfulness and wisdom regarding her life is beyond the pail. Her story is quite harrowing. But I have to say, even if she did not have a disabled child, and she wrote about her life the way she does in her blog, she would still be my hero. You will see what I mean if you read this or this or this.

She has clearly transcended the normal state of consciousness and gone somewhere high above it. Her writing often describes my inner dilemmas as well as giving me answers to them. She is farther ahead down the parenting path than I am and lighting the way as she goes for me and, I am sure, many others. Thanks Dream Mom! I am honored to be on your Blogroll.

So here goes. What do you, dear reader, think of my blog? How could it be better? What do you really like and what could you do with less of? Did anyone even read to the bottom of this post to notice I am asking?

15 comments:

Karen said...

I found your blog through Dream Mom, who I adore. I love to read and I read fast, so I admit that the other day I went back to Day 1 of your blog and read every single entry. I was really struck by your concept of the healing paradigm, and the belief that neurologically injured brains are not necessarily static in their ability to improve. I'm in occupational therapy school right now and I have a lot of interest in the things you've been discussing. I'm also a huge fan of diet-based intervention, like the GF/CF diet with autism. Alsooo (sorry this isn't very nicely written), your description of the circulatory therapy was so cool - can OTs do that kind of therapy?

Overall I really think you are a great mom and write a fascinating blog with a lot of great information for moms, therapists, you name it. I'm about to link you to my sidebar on my OT blog (otstudents.blogspot.com), but I don't expect you to visit or anything since I already read your post on hating it when people kiss your ass just so they can post their own blog. But guess what? I'm genuinely kissing your ass because I think your blog is great, and I don't expect you to visit mine in return. Just know you rock.

Karen

Karen said...

Ok, I realized I didn't actually respond to your question, I just took the opportunity to comment on how great it was. For me personally as an OT student, I really love your posts on diet and nutrition, the casting stories...things that describe therapeutic activities from a parental standpoint. Basically anything you post that makes it easier for moms or therapists to understand your POV or allow them to trace your footsteps is what I enjoy most. But everything else is fine too, there's nothing where I'd say "Oh I wish she didn't post so much on this."

I'll stop now that I wrote you a book of poorly written comments.

Eliza said...

Honestly I read you on Bloglines and so I don't usually notice the template, etc. unless there are pics or something that make me actually click over. I could care less. I come for the writing. One of my favorite things that you do is talk in detail about the specific procedures, adaptive equipment, etc. you are using with Ellie and why and whether it seems to help or not, and your writing on nutrition has me making some changes in the Doolittle kitchen too! So much of what you talk about here is useful to me--I just today found out that at least one of my kids needs AFOs, and was able to answer the child's questions along with the PT about what that involved because I'd read about Ellie's experiences. We're going to start practicing with "goo" on our legs since there are sensory issues at play and agree on an appropriate reward for immediately after. Yay! I just like finding other SAH parents who, like me, are struggling as fulltime special-needs caregiver and indispensable person extraordinnaire/wife/medical services coordinator/mortal human being whose flesh is heir to, well, shocks and such. I admire you so much for not having gone nuts yet. It gives me hope ;-)

Dream Mom said...

Thanks for all of the compliments.

As for blogs, I think every blogger has a certain style, kind of like our personalities. Your blog will be it's best when it reflects you and your life. I remember when I first started blogging, and trying to find my style. There were things that worked for other bloggers, but it wouldn't work for me. I think you are doing just fine!

When I read a blog, I am reading to get different perspectives that I might not otherwise get from a normal conversation.

I don't focus as much on the format, etc. To me, the writing is the most important. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have been far too lazy to log in lately (busy setting up the business and away from my home computer) so I am yet again posting under anon. But you know who I am.

I love your blog and whatever you want to write about it fine by me. I liked the way it looked before. The current layout throws me off cause it's not what I expect. But then again, I will get used to it.

I think you are being incredibly brave opening yourself up to criticism. I have been wondering why some of my posts "work" and some don't. It seems the more serious ones don't work. Maybe I need to give up my agenda. But having said all that, I don't think I could let someone else come in and critique my blog. You are very very very brave. And I would have been terribly excited to get 75 out of 100 at school. I'm really not all that smart.

L,
Jacqui

Lee Ping said...

I read to the end, Ellie's Mom. I even signed up for a review.

Kathryn said...

Karen,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! You have inspired me to write about nutrition again. The first few times I did, I felt like everyone was like- well there 's now way I can do that! So I said, Ok, I'll just shut up about it now. So when I start writing about food combining and all it's glorious pain in the assedness - everyone can thank you!

Seriously - great feedback. I am glad that the posts are helping you. I am honored that you put me on your blogroll. I am always glad when medical folk read my blog because I think it will help them be better therapists or doctors because they can see a little bit about what the home life, the outside the office/school/public setting life the child and family have.

Lastly, I am so jealous of your fast reading ability. I am really complimented that you read my whole blog! That is so cool. I checked out yours and will go back. I also will link to you I am just trying to decide where to put you. I might have to do a therapy link or something or tweak the dr. mcblog header.

I really loved your indepth and two part comment that was plenty coherent and plenty well written. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you comment again especially when I write about things that matter to you.

Lastly, thanks for the feedback about the detailed posts where I am describing what I do with Ellie. I know when I write those I am in the flow so to speak and they feel the best to write. So I will do more of that. There are so many posts of so many things like that still to report.

Thanks again!

Kathryn said...

Eliza - thanks so much for your really kind and thoughtful comments. You made me laugh about the gone nuts part. Sorry to dissapoint you but I am sure I am slightly nuts! ;-)

You too are inspiring to write about nutrition again! mUHAHAHAH!(insert big evil laugh).

I would love to hear about the nutritional changes you implemented and how they are working for you. Good luck with the Goo. I hope your little one doesn't find the AFO's too terrible. I tried to look up your profile but could not get into Bloglines. If you have a blog, please send me the link. I would love to see your little ones. SAH moms unite!

It's great to meet you and I hope you comment again!


Best of all I am thrilled to hear that by reading about Ellie's AFO experiences it helped you with your own child's. That absolutely makes my day that you were less in the dark about it - a step ahead so that your child might not get a pressure sore now and have an easier experience. That makes me so happy. Thanks for that feedback.

I think I have to go ahead and tell Diva Dee that templates may not be the end all be all.

Kathryn said...

Dream Mom,

I think you are right, in many ways I am still finding my style. And I know the really good blogs, like, hmmm, let me think, oh yes - YOURS are really consistent that way. And I think that is part of what makes them great. Getting this feedback is really helping me to see what is working though. I think part of my inconsistency is due to my broad interests which is part of my personality. I like to try new things including writing styles. There actually one or two posts I have written where I am imitating Ernest Hemingway's writing style. I think those work really well not that my writing is good enough that anyone would have noticed. But "Hills Like White Elephants" comes to mind in all it's choppy glory.

That said the opportunity is for me to go more indepth about this life I am leading which will help me and others possibly.

Ok - I probably should not be commenting so early this morning because I realize I am not all that coherent. But thanks for this feedback - though you might not be able to tell by this comment - it really gave me an aha!

So great to have you commenting on Ryn Tales!!! ;-)

Kathryn said...

Jacqui - first off NO ONE in their right mind would ever, ever in a gazillion years consider you in any way shape or form lazy.

Sorry about the template throwing you off. I think I like the side bar on the right so I might change it again as well as put in a background color so the white is not so glaring from the screen.

I will try to do it only once more and in one fell swoop to minimize the change.

Thanks for your feedback. You are one of my biggest supporters! I don't know if I am all that brave. I care about Ryn Tale as a blog a lot but I started it thinking, I have no idea what the heck I am doing so just have fun with it, use it as a way to keep sane (though it's not a panacea Eliza!).

I did figure out how to delete comments from trolls and such though without deleting the entire post. The brave part for me was turning the comment moderation off. But I am glad I did.

I think your blog is so great. I love your serious posts as much as the funny ones and the endearing ones with videos of Moo. You have such a strong voice and hit the nail on the head far more succinctly than I ever do. I always try to get it right as neatly as you do in your posts and always fall short. I have to say I think you are harder on yourself than I am on myself which is probably why your posts are always so succinct and coherent.

Thanks for the feedback!

L,
Kathryn

Kathryn said...

Lee Ping - thanks for reading to the end! That makes 5 people who read the whole post! Yahooooo! Out of roughly 200 hits per day - 5 readers read the entire post (one read the entire blog). wow - that is a breathtaking piece of information.

Good for you signing up for a review. I look forward to reading it.

Karen said...

Hey again,

Thanks for your really kind response. I'm afraid my blog hasn't really hit its stride yet, especially since I'm currently on summer break. I'm reaching back to things from a journal I kept while in school. Right now I have about uh, I dunno, 10 readers. AHAHHAA. Oh well. But yes, as we both have now said, it helps me a lot to see the parental standpoint of therapy. For example, AFOs - therapists might put them on originally and fit them, but you are the one stuck struggling to put them on every day. If you don't see/understand the value of them, you're going to be noncompliant. It's important for therapists to remember we see the child a few hours a week at best while the parents have to deal with the repercussions of therapeutic interventions 24/7. Ok that was my soapbox rant, now one more (beating a dead horse) clarification -

I LOVEEEEEEEE LOVE LOVE LOVE your nutritional posts. I read a ton of stuff on GF/CF diets for autism, read the book on Pervasive Developmental Delay by Karyn ?, wanted to get that Special Diets for Special Kids book, and really became fascinated by the idea that many people have ailments like fatigue, headaches, sinus issues, that could probably be cured by simple dietary interventions, even if it's not so simple to figure out the triggers. I've tried to go on a GF/CF diet along with not doing soy, potatoes, nightshade etc...(to help me with various slight autoimmune things) but guess what, it was WAY too hard for me. I do try to always read the ingredients though now, and avoid high fructose corn syrup, items with lots of chemical names, preservatives, etc. I really, really admire parents like you who take the time to make careful healthy choices for your kid. I know when you're tired (you in a nonpersonal sense) it's SO tempting to just microwave up some crap.

Ok, I'm going to stop now. Just keep up the great work, I love reading about Ellie and would love, personally, to hear more about therapy sessions (like specifically what you do with your circulatory therapy), and what your experiences have been with encounters in OT/PT/Speech...like when the therapist really gets you, or is unrealistic...

Love the butterfly wings, btw. My friend Paloma used to put some on to go to the grocery store (we were teens). Brings back the memories. AHHAHHA

catherine said...

i like your blog just the way it is. but i am also a canned blogger template user (who has the time for anything else?).

Maureen said...

Hi Kathryn,

I love your blog - and I agree with Catherine - who has time to create your own design? I don't even have time to write entries, but have recently responding to memes which is fun.

I did find one blog today that has me in awe over design:

http://thisnthatchat.com/blog.html

Hope you are feeling better. Take care and I hope to write you soon.

Maureen

Lori said...

You know I love your blog!! And I must admit, that Ellie is certainly what keeps me coming back for more! :)

I am quite happy with my canned blog template- and scarcely ever notice those kinds of details on other blogs. Just keep writing and sharing photos of that adorable Ellie!

Oh, and I would NEVER sign up for a review like that. WAY too intimidating for me!